Virtue is an old word.

When you hear it you think of angels, saints, or a chivalrous knight, right?

The common definition these days is something along the lines of "excellent, moral behavior", but I'd like to talk about a slightly different definition.

I recently finished a book on Stoicism, the ancient Greek and Roman version, not the modern "tough it out you wimp" kind. In which, the author takes some time to talk about this other definition which comes from the Stoics's understanding of the word.

Virtue: doing what you're intended to do with the greatest excellence that you're capable of

In this sense, a chef's knife might be virtuous if it allows the chef to dice and chop with the greatest ease and efficiency possible for a knife. Sure, a knife's quality is pretty straight forward to judge. You might see where I'm going with this.

How do you know if you're a virtuous person?

Following this definition, being a virtuous person would mean that you do what a person is intended to do with excellence. You're the best person you can be. This could certainly apply to your work, profession, or hobbies as well. Are you a virtuous friend? Student? Artist? Video game player? Voter?

The "that you're capable of" bit is important here. You don't expect a chef's knife to be a great hammer too. Similarly, people are different from one another and have different capacities for "excellence" in different areas. You can try to be the fastest sprinter in the world, but you don't need to be the fastest to be a virtuous sprinter. Instead, you need to do what a sprinter does "with the greatest excellence that you're capable of." In other words, you do the best you can and do not settle for any less.

I think this provides an interesting, refreshing view on our lives and the world around us. It's also a push against settling for mediocrity. Instead of saying "it's good enough/ I'm good enough", you strive to say "it's the very best I can make it/ I'm the very best I can be."